Great leaders are like gemstones: rare and valuable. Employing a combination of business, technical, and soft skills, these leaders improve the fortunes of a business, elevate the careers of those around them, and respond to the communities in which they operate. Such leadership is a product of hard work, self-knowledge, and a commitment to continually developing their knowledge and skills.
It is a challenging but worthwhile effort that forges leaders who rise to the top ranks of their professions. Challenges confront our evolving post-pandemic economy as stresses like the Great Resignation and the rapid shift to a remote workforce strain businesses attempting to navigate uncertain waters. The current landscape exacerbates a leadership skills gap already underway as many leaders move to greener pastures (or early retirement companies).
At Touro University Worldwide, working adults can develop the leadership skills to lead within their industries in the “new normal” of the post-pandemic business world.
The Impact of the Great Resignation
Even before the Great Resignation, companies faced challenges in finding good leadership candidates. Research from Gallup found that only about 10 percent of managers had developed the skills and traits needed for successful leadership.
Though Great Resignation peaked in April 2021, the rate of people leaving their jobs remains high. In August 2021 alone, 4.3 million people quit their jobs. The trend has impacted organizations, from frontline employees to managers. Many companies have witnessed the exit of decades of leadership knowledge and experience in just the past year.
Demand for talented leaders remains high throughout all economic sectors.
How to Improve Leadership Skills
Improving leadership skills starts inward, with the leader herself. Depending solely on external sources to develop better leadership skills falls short if that leader does not first assess their abilities, traits, strengths, and weaknesses.
Interviews with CEOs by Business News Daily offer some cogent advice for leaders looking to improve.
“Know thyself” is ancient wisdom applicable to all of us but is critical for great leadership. Leaders must uncover their motivations for why they lead. Is it for the money and prestige or to help people and businesses succeed? Assessing your incentives, inspirations, strengths, and weaknesses provides a roadmap for improvement.
Communicate Openly and honestly
More than ever, workers want transparency and honesty from leadership. This requires building and maintaining strong lines of communication with team members. Good leaders focus on honest, straightforward, and clear communication. Leaders also can better connect with team members by maintaining positivity, purpose, empathy, compassion, and humility.
Encourage Personal Growth
The best leaders nurture those they lead, helping others rise to their full potential. Grooming future managers and executives is one of the most crucial contributions leaders make for their organization.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Attitude is always important but takes on added significance during the tumultuous times currently impacting people’s health and pocketbooks. This includes finding the positives in problematic or challenging situations. A calm presence at the office helps employees better focus on productivity and achieving goals.
Set Clear Goals
Employees who don’t understand team goals or how those goals fit into overall business strategy often become disengaged and less productive. As part of a commitment to clear communication, intelligent leaders also make short-term and long-term goals clear to all employees.
Practicing Leadership Theories
Understanding the progression and history of leadership theory helps leaders understand how to develop and apply leadership methodologies in today’s business environment. Some examples, old and new, include:
The Great Man Theory
Developed in the mid-19th century. The Great Man theory argues that people are born with leadership skills and cannot learn them. In other words, some men (and the theory assumes only men) are born leaders and destined for greatness. The Great Man Theory is disregarded mainly as an artifact of its time.
The Trait Theory
based on the Great Man theory, the Trait Theory uses personal assessment to identify commonly accepted leadership traits. Like the Great Man Theory, The Trait theory has largely fallen out of favor. Nonetheless, some elements of it remain useful today.
Later research based on behavioral theory identifies five principal types of manager behavior. These behaviors reflect whether leaders are task-oriented or people-oriented.
- Indifferent. The worst type, as these leaders give neither tasks nor employees attention.
- Country Club. Focused more on employee well-being and employee engagement rather than tasks.
- Task-oriented. Focused more on completing work tasks than employee engagement.
- Status Quo. Placing equal but moderate emphasis on employee wellness and work.
- Sound. The best type, with a high focus on both work and employee wellness.
Contingency Leadership Theory
Contingency leadership theory argues that no one approach serves leaders best. According to the theory, the management style should adapt to the situation.
Situational Leadership Theory
Like contingency theory, situational leadership stresses effective response to current demands and circumstances.Situational theory argues there is more to leadership than specific pre-determined traits. Rather, successful leadership requires different leadership styles depending on the situation at hand.
Today’s modern leadership theories complete the 180-degree shift from the Great Man theory. These theories are responsive, inclusive, and flexible, suggesting leaders come to their various roles based on motivation and skills development rather than immutable inherent traits. It also emphasizes developing employee talents and inspiring people to achieve organizational goals.
Touro University Worldwide Prepares Leaders
Touro University Worldwide prepares graduates for leadership roles in various careers and industries. The university offers MBA programs that focus on leadership in specific concentrations, including an MBA in Global Management and a Physician and Healthcare Executive MBA.
In addition, students interested in public sector leadership can earn an online Master of Arts in Public Administration degree.
TUW widens the pool of people prepared with the skills and knowledge to become great leaders. By offering high-quality degree programs online geared toward “non-traditional” students, TUW offers working professionals the opportunity to earn a graduate degree wherever they live and work.